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Staff Spotlight: Paul Mihas

A headshot of Paul Mihas.As Odum’s assistant director for education and qualitative methods, Paul Mihas wears many hats. His various roles include qualitative and mixed methods researcher, instructor, and consultant, which give him the opportunity to work across many disciplines and levels of research, from applied to theoretical.

Mihas was born in Kemmerer, Wyoming, but spent his adolescence in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, where he double-majored in math and English. Even then, he was interested in “mixed methods” and bridging mathematical concepts with what he learned in the humanities. After graduating, he first worked as an actuarial analyst for Lutheran Brotherhood Insurance in Minneapolis, where he used the COBOL programming language.

After graduate school in the humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill, Paul spent two years in a corporate position developing technical computer architecture courses at NCR Corporation. However, he craved a return to academia, where he could use his writing skills and further develop his research skills in the social sciences. This brought him to Odum, where his first role was as the managing editor of a sociology journal, Social Forces, published through UNC Press.

During his time at Odum, Paul has seen the remarkable evolution of qualitative and mixed methods research at UNC and has learned how qualitative methods can be strategically applied to many fields, including dentistry, business, and medicine. An educator at heart, he is looking forward to teaching qualitative methods in the classroom again when in-person instruction returns.

A recent accomplishment of Mihas is his co-editing of a qualitative research methods book with Johnny Saldaña and Charles Vanover, Analyzing and Interpreting Qualitative Research: After the Interview, published by SAGE. He also collaborates with ResearchTalk, Inc., Odum’s qualitative research partners, to plan the annual Qualitative Research Summer Intensive. Mihas is also a mentor and co-instructor at ResearchTalk’s Qualitative Data Analysis Camps and Writing Camps.

Outside of the office, Paul enjoys Greek cooking, hiking, and going to local improv shows.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, fewer UNC students have engaged in qualitative research due to the difficulty of collecting interview and focus group data. However, Paul continues to work on grant-funded projects, conduct consultations, and hold meetings with faculty, staff, and students via Zoom.


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